Diane Wilkerson rejects Massachusetts Senate's call to quit = A1 Boston Globe 10/31/2008.
A beautiful black woman, Wilkerson was a respected civil rights lawyer before her career in the state senate. But she was never either willing or able to install an ethics chip on her motherboard. She skipped taxes, took bribes, did house arrest, a little jail time....
Message - Diane, decouple the emotions. Just install the chip. Steps one to three. Just go through them and DO IT. Get it done.
Same goes for me and you and all the stuff we know we should be doing and aren't cuz we're waiting for the right mood or the right conditions of temperature and pressure.
Say you're a biodegradable organic robot - so decouple the emotions - just install the missing chip on your motherboard - write down the steps - go through them one by one 1-2-3... - methodical - emotionless - just do it - just get it done.
Same goes for any Big Looming Project.
(Geez, I wish I could take this advice!)
We got it backwards: we criminalize drugs and decontrol guns. Then a physician(!) lets his 8-year-old son fire an Ouzi machinegun in Massachusetts - gunclub target practice - the father is on one side of the kid and a trainer on the other - the situation is as safe as it gets for an 8-year-old to fire a machinegun - then the recoil upends the gun and "sends a round" into the kid's head ==> dies in hospital - the father tries to blame the trainer - he's just lucky the gun didn't swing round and blow away everyone in the room, including him - society's just unlucky that it didn't blow away him and get his lethally dumb genes out of the gene pool = another "idiot savant."
We need to control guns and decriminalize drugs.
It will soon be necessary to control parenthood too when people seem to lack basic chips on their motherboard like, duh, don't give an Ouzi to an 8-year-old.
Here's a blinding glimpse of the obvious that the mainstream economists have never been able to "get": You can't keep introducing work-saving technology into the workplace and have the same number of urgently demanded 40-hour-a-week jobs. This is the DET, the Diminishing Employment Truism, that blocks the LOLF, the moronic Lump of Labor Fallacy that mainstream economists are always ridiculing shorter-hours advocates for supporting, when these economists can't even name it correctly (it would refer to a fixed "lump" or pool of employment, not labor) or disclose the timeframe they have in mind = indefinite; that is, infinite - and of course, ANYthing is infinite in infinity, and far from infinite or growing or even fixed, the amount of 40hr/wk employment in a constantly technologizing, now robotizing, workplace is DIMINISHING in the immediate term, as evidenced by the constant downsizings and now also outsourcings. The power elite, CEOs and mainstream economists could not be destroying their employment base, consumer base, and themselves faster (everyone else first) if they were doing it on purpose.
And what is their solution to a situation where they have beggared their employment and consumer bases with increasing robotization, self-serve, downsizing, outsourcing, and the unlimited concentration of the national income and wealth in the top 0.01%, who were already spending all they cared to before they got the last $10 million?
"Transfer $700 billion of credit, potentially currency, from our infinite consumer base via taxes on everyone but us, via the government, to US."
Honest to God, they couldn't be committing suicide, everyone else first, if they were doing it on purpose.
The most cushioned among us have the most decision-making power. And as any negative feedback approaches them, it gets less and less negative. By the time it reaches them, it looks neutral or even positive, so what do they do? "Stay the course." And why not? The system is working for them (ah, until the financial markets begin to rollercoaster for lack of return on investments - for lack, in turn, of marketable productivity to invest these elephantiasized black holes of money in with any degree of sustainability - for lack, in turn, of a customer base that is growing at anything like the rate at which the national income and wealth (and "global" income and wealth) is concentrating and consolidating, and solidifying like concrete to the - surprise, surprise - deceleration of the circulation of the currency, alias economic dynamism, vitality, robustness, stability, and possibly sustainable growth. (And we ourselves would be doing the same thing if we were in their position - so it's a system-design challenge, not a terrible SIN of theirs for which they, targets of our fury, must be punished.)
So here, then, hinted in the paragraph above, is the answer to the most important question of the moment:
Let's us assume, for a moment, that the prevailing assumption that ANY amount of concentrating the national income and wealth is wrong because the assumption upon which it rests is wrong, the assumption that the financial markets are the most fundamental markets and the job markets are last, with the consumer markets in between due to the "wealth effect." This is similar, metaphorically, to the proposition that any amount of concentrated matter in the universe is good and beneficial to all as well as itself = black holes are good and sustainable, the more massive and smaller, the better. Third-world is good - lots and lots of money, but 99% in the hands of 1% of the population.
Let us assume instead, however, that there is a point of diminishing return in the concentration of the national (and global) income and wealth, a point where it starts to undermine its foundations and even, via a positive feedback loop, begins to accrue money faster than it can possibly spread it, so that all money within its "event horizon," as all matter (even photon energy) with the event horizon of an astronomical black hole, gets sucked into that black hole and crushed to tinyness willy nilly.
The big question: how do we non-controversially, non-arbitarily, determine that point of diminishing returns in the concentration of the national income and wealth - that turning point - that threshold?
Previously we've expressed it as a static question: how much money among how few people turns self-deteriorating?
But the paragraph above hints that it's actually a "rate" thing.
As soon as the rate of concentration or consolidation of income and wealth exceeds the rate of deconcentration or deconsolidation or distribution or spreading or sharing of income and wealth, the system (compare a star) is at risk of collapse (self-shrinkage) into a "dwarf star" or further, into a black hole.
How is such money concentration usually justified?
"Oh we need all the investment money we can get - to fund bigger and bigger projects."
'Investment is good, the more the better without limit - so give more and more of the national income and wealth to us, the top 0.01%, because we need all the investing power we can get."
So what's the problem?
The actual investing falls behind.
The rate of dissemination, deconcentration, deconsolidation, money-spreading, sharing, etc. falls further and further behind the rate of concentration.
Can these two rates be determined? ARE they already being determined - or even constantly monitored - in the biggest economy (USA) or other economies? Are there statistics that answer or come close?
Are there two thresholds?
The first where the concentration rate exceeds the de-concentration rate, and a second, further threshold beyond which the concentration is self-fueling and cannot be controlled?
This is starting to sound like ecology and what is happening in the rate of species depletion, ozone depletion, groundwater depletion, global warming, etc. etc.
Theoretically, in social evolution, all rates are reversible, because we're talking intelligent beings here, right? - but in practice, as the rich get richer and, perfectly understandably, gradually and unnoticeably isolate and insulate and cushion themselves more and more from jolts of large and then less large and then smaller and smaller sizes, they get less and less reachable by negative feedback - feedback that indicates change is necessary - first the small negative feedback goes, then less small, then large and larger and larger till - as Geo.Bush Jr. exemplifies - "you're doin a helluva [good] job, Brownie!" and ... "Stay the course!" no matter what. "Cut taxes on wealth!" - no matter what. "Toughen the bankruptcy laws!" "Give employees the choice of arranging their own travel, pumping their own gas, checking out their own groceries, bringing their own food onto airlines, working longer hours, taking a paycut if they so choose...."
In ecology, the second threshold is where the laws of physics take over and render the trend self-accelerating
Are there, in practice, laws of economic physics which could, or already have, rendered the national (and global?) concentration of income and wealth self-accelerating without reversability except at a population-catastrophic lower level of "economic carrying capacity"?
(For that matter, does every economic design, specifically the design of the core money-centrifuge system, have a carrying capacity?)
Why was Paul Newman the biggest charity contributor of this century, bar none?
Because he automated it. He gave all the profits from his salad dressing line to charity and did not tinker with this basic design.
Similarly, as we move from the political age through political economics and the economic age into the ecological age,
and move from deliberate rhetorical regulation through deliberate quantitative regulation and automatic quantitative regulation into automatic qualitative regulation, we will automate economic and societal self-stabilization and maximum levels of dynamism and health for each critical economic variable that comes up for balancing (in precise order: work per person, income per person, wealth per person, credit per person...).
In other words, very long-term self-regulated balance (socioeconomic homeostasis), now too important to continue to allow repeated sabotage by wealthy decision-makers, will occur by programmed design, and not by repeated interventions with short-term goals and "pressing exceptions" in mind.
A stunning (and stunned) example of this short-sighted, deliberate exceptionalism is the current initiative on the Massachusetts ballot (Nov/2008) to repeal the state income tax - with no substitute funding mechanism in place. Taxation is just a transition mechanism to provide some centrifugation of national income and wealth until the great automatic centrifuges are in place, one after another: worktime sizing, income sizing, wealth sizing, etc. You don't tear up the floorboards of your current imperfect lifeboat until you have a better one in the water beside it to replace it.
Most people have no concept of what mechanization, automation and now, robotization are doing, and have already done, to human employment. "Lights out manufacturing" is spreading - no lights are needed in modern factories because there are NO employees - none, nada, zero. One guy drives around once a week to check on things - (s)he doesn't even have to squirt oil on the robots or read the gauges because even those functions are automated.
The host of mainstream economists comfortably sneering at "true believers in the lump of labor fallacy" (actually a misnomer for the lump of employment truism) have been perpetuating "work hard, not smart" and blocking human progress for long enough. Their tacit assumption of an indefinite timeframe reduces their nostrum to the fatuous and irrelevant "insight" that employment is infinite in infinity - but then, ANYTHING is infinite in infinity.
The key management skill of the future is suturing more and shorter shifts, to spread the diminishing, natural, market-demanded employment throughout the entire adult population and secure maximum consumer markets and economic dynamism (i.e., circulation of the currency), as an alternative to our current unlimited concentration and stagnation of income and wealth in the top ten-thousandth of the population as now in our "black hole" economy. And any manager or employer or business school prof who cannot learn this skill should retire or otherwise leave the field to more flexible, less self-destructive minds.
If the most important unasked questions of the moment are:
At what point in the concentration of the national income and wealth does the concentration process itself begin to undermine itself?
How much money to how few people turns self-destructive, because there is no longer enough currency being circulated in the consumer base to purchase the productivity that the wealthy need to invest in?
then how do we determine these threshold or changeover values, these tipping points, these fulcrums?
Suppose we start by determining them experientially /experimentally /historically
and then look for a rule or percentage.
We know our present concentration of income and wealth is too much because of the gut-wrenching zigzags of the stock markets.
So how much money is currently concentrated on how few people?
Krugman focuses on the top ten-thousandth of the population ('Graduates versus oligarchs' A23 NYT 2/27/2006). This would be the top 0.01%, the top 99.99 percentile, the top 30,000 people in an American population of 300 million.
Their (average?) income? Krugman estimates well over $6 million a year. Between 1972 and 2001, their wage and salary income rose 497%.
The top 0.1%'s only rose 181%.
The top 1%'s only rose 87%.
The top 10%'s only rose 34%, or about 1% a year.
(Ian Dew-Becker & Robert Gordon of Northwestern Univ., Jan/Feb 2006 paper 'Where did the productivity go?')
And how much of M1 does it take - what percentage?
What are these figures for 1987 and 1929? (Are 1929 figures even available?)
Is the M1 the best variable to be focusing on or is there a better one (better ones)?
Is the best one currently defined and collected or do we have to define and start collecting it?
What do we have to make do with going back to 1929?
(4:20 am, 17 Oct 2008/ph3)
The ancient people, including the ancient Hebrews, spoke very concretely relative to us. The Hebrews spoke of the layb or laybob (heart), roo-ack (breath) and nephesh (body), and we have translated these heart, spirit and soul (in the sense of "twenty souls were saved from the sinking ship" or "can't a body get any peace and quiet around here?!").
Our Hebrew professor (William Ewart Staples) used to say, "If the laybob is the rudder of the ship, the the roo-ack is the sails and the nephesh is the whole ship."
But since a human does not have breath (i.e., spirit) until birth, this means that a foetus is not yet a nephesh or "soul" (or "child"), and so abortion is not murder.
The six dimensions are line (distance), area (plane or field), volume (space), mass (matter). momentum (time), and energy. As in, dot times length is line, line times width (or breadth) is area, area times height (or depth) is volume, volume times density is mass, mass times velocity ("circular" or tight-spiral) is momentum, and momentum times velocity ("straight" or loose-spiral) is energy.
Momentum might be clearer if we inserted a vee (v), thus, movmentum, to make clear its basis in movement (motion) as well as its connection to time via "moment."
Every repetitive motion is a timekeeper, a timepiece, defining its own time unit, namely, one repetition.
That's why time is irreversible - because it is already reversed. It goes over there and comes back. For example, the Sun goes from east to west in the sky (this side of the Earth) and comes back on the other side of the Earth ready for its next east-west trip next morning. It is self-balancing or self-denying or self-negating motion (very humble!).
What is the resolution of how time can be already reversed and yet progressive, cyclical and yet linear?
The rotation of a point on the Earth's surface (such as the Greenwich observatory) is not simply, merely, exactly circular.
It is spiral motion, since the Earth has not only performed a one-day circular rotation around its axis but 1/365 of its one-year circular/elliptical revolution around the Sun.
(3-3:30 am, 10/18/2008/ph3, 66 Carillon #3, coin Braves du Coin, Gatineau secteur Hull, Quebec)
Recent phrases from the front lines of the American management meltdown that Scott Adams could use in his Dilbert strip:
"Deadline chicken" is where all the clients on a given project "buy into" impossibly early deadlines and none have the guts to be the bearer of bad news, tell truth to power, and bring some reality to the situation - and to the deadlines.
A "meeting Nazi" is what virtually every meeting today (and for the past 40 years) in American business has needed: someone to ruthlessly cut off the ratchet jaws, the anecdotes, the socializing, the niceties, and GET THE goddam MEETING OVER-WITH IN ONE HOUR MAX!
"Retroactive windfall taxes," including retroactive (golden) parachute taxes and retroactive (yearly) bonus taxes, are what the American government is going to be driven to as a stopgap measure (until Timesizing is implemented) in order to correct the astronomical excess of investing money in the top 0.001% of the population over what can be sustainably invested in marketable productivity, given the cannibalization of the employment base and the derivative consumer base by the top 0.001% during the last 40 years.
Is the extra 100,000-year genetic diversity within Africa paralleled by or reflected in linguistic diversity?
Are there developmental stages in the modern languages parallel to or matchable with the social science eras (as outlined in Vol.2 of our Millennium Orientation Trilogy, The Football of History)?
The wealthy rail against those on unemployment, welfare, disability and even against the unions for featherbedding and gratuitous overtime, etc. However, the poor have no monopoly on laziness - there's plenty of lazy and parasitic well-off people too, like politicians and civil servants with their pork and patronage and no-show jobs and sinecures. And then there are the lazy and parasitic wealthy people themselves, who without the accident of birth (like Ted Kennedy for Senate in 1964 without his name) would just be total losers. Recall in Michael Moore's film "Roger and Me," the wealthy dame on the golf course yapping about how the unemployed should make themselves useful and get back to work. She's there merely by the accident of birth. But social evolution is incremental. Ultimately it may completely neutralize the accident of birth - whether it's a matter of the extra disadvantages OR advantages that birth has given you - either of the two extremes can be disastrous (notice the similarity of the extreme opposites).
Metaphors are everything. (Idea credit to the late John Paul Kowal)
The connection with self-esteem, belief in oneself, as supported by the job market when an employer says to you, "You're hired." In other words, "I believe in you and your abilities enough to promise to pay you money for some time out of your life for the indefinite future."
This is the real currency base - the value of American dollar is anchored ultimately by the value of the average American's working time.
The idea that the currency base is the value of the average American product or piece of work in a piecework situation is more primitive and specific. It is subsumable under the amount of time taken to make that product. Time is despecified and more general and includes services, not just products. The concept of "services" can also subsume the activity of making products almost as generally as "time."
War is where we blame people outside our country for all our biggest problems (which are chiefly our own system mistakes) and we erect as our biggest problem the crushing of these other people and assume that all our lead-in problems, now eclipsed, will be solved by solving our new biggest problem. This allows us all, even the poorest and weakest among us, to feel extremely important when we contribute, however little, to the war effort. (9/30/2008 after reading p.45 of Fraser-Smith's "Secret War.")
And ironically, since our biggest system mistake is assuming that unlimited concentration of the national income and wealth is desirable, and our biggest problem is the cannibalization of the labor and consumer markets by the financial market and the resulting deceleration of the circulation of our currency, inefficient wars do solve our biggest problem and through it, most of our other system problems. They do so by creating a perceived shortage of labor and harnessing nearly irresistible market forces to force the wealthy to spread around their investment money and convert huge chunks of it from investing money back into spending money - which of course re-accelerates currency circulation and delivers "wartime prosperity" (though plagues will do just as well). Of course, if the war is too efficient, it won't kill and maim enough of our workforce to engineer the necessary labor shortage back home, and if it is too efficient for the enemy, there won't be enough of us left at home to continue our socioeconomy.
If they bail out the top income&wealth brackets again (as they've already done for Freddy and Fannie and BearStearns ($29B) but not Lehman but yes AIG...) - on US taxpayer cash or credit - short-term they'll restore some confidence. HOWEVER, the fundamental problem is far too much money concentrated in the top brackets looking for sustainable investments in marketable productivity, and insufficient money in the markets for general productivity to support that colossal black-hole concentration of investment money - in other words, the top brackets (0.001% of Americans = 300,000) have vacuumed the spending power out of the markets for the productivity that they NEED to invest in (and dismantled most of the safeguard legislation of the late 1930s to do so; e.g., Glass-Steagall Banking Act...). So ... if they keep transferring even more money (or 'potential money' = credit) to the topmost brackets, they are effectively transforming even more money from deconcentrated spending power in the general markets into concentrated investing power in the topmost income brackets, the fundamentals will get much worse and the next crisis will happen "twice as fast and twice as bad." It's like one of those Chinese finger puzzles where you each put a finger in opposite ends of the braided tube and then try to pull your fingers out - the harder you pull, the tighter you're stuck. Another analogy = we've now entered the event perimeter of the monetary Black Hole where everything gets sucked into the center by the tiny concentrated mass therein. As you've heard me say, the only way to stop the freefall to the Third World where there's plenty of money all in the dictator's hands (& a few of his buddies & trophy wives) is to strengthen the centrifugal force on the national income and wealth by engineering a perceived shortage of labor to replace the gross surplus of labor that has been nurtured and growing for so long (eg: since the babyboomers grew up, entered overwhelmed the automation-weakened job markets and replaced the labor surplus of the Depression) - mkt forces work here by forcing employers to bid against one another for good help and wage levels inexorably rise, regardless of wage control boards (like Galbraith's during WW2). So how do you reverse a labor surplus and engineer a labor shortage? Traditionally, war, ergo "wartime prosperity." Ship a big chunk of your workforce overseas and kill'em & maim'em - great for losing all those surplus labor hours on offer in the labor mkts back home - them noble boys "die for us" in a distinctly real and cynical way - boosting the pay of those back home and centrifuging the national income and wealth out to those who immediately spend it instead of allowing it to continue to funnel up to the "top two guys" who were already spending all they cared to before they got the last $10million. Not that I blame them cuz we'd be doin' the same thing ourselves in their position => it's a system problem that has to be corrected by minimal redesign of the whole-system architecture. Another way, less controllable, is a 'nice' fast-acting epidemic. Europe buzzed with economic activity after the Great Plague killed 25% of the serfs - the middle class was born, and every visitation of the Plague thereafter was followed by similar prosperity for survivors. But is there any intelligent and safe way to achieve this reduction in the grotesque and desperate surplus of labor hours on offer in the markets? Yes, but no one in the mainstream is talking about it - hasn't for decades. In fact, mention it and you're immediately ridiculed as a True Believer in the Lump of Labor Fallacy. It's too simple, too obvious, makes too many demands on real mgmt skill when mgrs would rather just fire highly paid pre-retirees and hire kids at minimum wage: 1. a meaningful = all-inclusive un/under-employment /dependency /parasitism rate, including welfare, disability, homelessness, prison, forced self-employment w/o clients... 2. a dynamically unemployment(UE)-determined fluctuating workweek = as long as UE is too high or rising, the workweek is gradually reduced to keep the natural market-determined employment "squeezed out" like toothpaste on everyone, and get gov't out of the position of employer and charity of last resort 3. smooth and automatic overtime(OT)-to-jobs conversion - jobs to be OT-targeted and if necessitated by lack of qualified applicants, OT-targeted on-the-job training (OJT) to be set up - smoothly, automatically, no big credentialling constraints = sort of like World War II (WW2) when Rose was dragged into the factory, qik-trained & transformed into Rosie the Riveter. 4. safeguards against subversion by central bankers (like Hugo Stinnes who engineered the German hyperinflation of the early 1920s), eg: set interest rates by public referendum 5. initiate direct livingstandard to population linkage, eg: if the workweek is going down too far too fast, offer PAUSE option and shift pressure to the first of the "population variables" = (1) imports, (2) immigrants, (3) births - a creative and automatic redesign here would stop plant closures and job flight/outsourcing 6. dismantle all the costly govt bureaucracies, controls and programs that were necessary only in a primitive economy with high unemployment and weak mkts and currency circulation - and then be prepared to copy these design principles from the worktime-per-person dimension into the first of the money dimensions (income per person) when cued by burgeoning govt bureaucracies, controls and programs to offset income disparity - (the economic shareable variables, all per-person while their per-job counterparts are DEcontrolled and surrendered to mkt forces, are worktime, income, wealth, credit...). Every economy that survives will have these features 50 years from now, and some will probably survive, even if the USA doesn't. Best things to invest in now? 1. any dirty tricks necessary to oust the GOP in the USA (tho from the recent bailout vote, the Dems are even stupider about the econofundamentals that the Repubs), and also the US-imitators like the so-called Conservatives in Canada, and Sarkozy in France - cuz they still OWN many many election machines in the US and they're teaching Harper and Sarko as much as they can (so even if Obama wins and doesn't immediately get assassinated, he doesn't have a clue about the fundamentals - just ever-huger poisoned bandaids dba bailouts - but he's not going to keep cutting taxes on the wealthy as energetically/secretly) 2. specifically, Lincoln Electric and Nucor and any other worksharing companies 3. generally, Europe and Japan (and local US banks not mired in the financial corruption and hedgefund mess)
10/04/2003 - So the USA has finally swallowed the fastest-acting suicide pill yet - transferring $700 BILLION from the cannibalized and starving consumer base to the bloated investor scaffold. Truly this is like Rep. Louie Gohmert said, a tiny marshmallow in a humungus cow pie. T'will be surprising if this calms our precious investor-speculators longer than four weeks. The good news for the rest of the world is, the Bush regime has cut down to size the Last Remaining SuperPower faster than any outside force, and we'll be right down with post-Katrina Mississippi and the rest of the Third World in a matter of years, if not months.
The swing between over-regulation and over-deregulation or no regulation is matched by the swing between the Democrats' Too Many Controls and the Republicans' Too Few Controls or even No Controls.
This repetitive broken-record no-progress cycle can be resolved by reversing the order of these elements and reframing them as rightwing No Controls versus a leftwing Burgeoning Maximum of Stifling, Detailed Controls.
Then we can ask, is there a third alternative? We can derive one by flipping every term in the leftwing phrase: instead of a Burgeoning Maximum of Stifling Detailed Controls, how about a Stable Minimum of Liberating, Generalized Controls, theoretically just one = the Holy Grail of Economic Designers.
How could it be done? The idea is that a single general regulation, well-designed and positioned in the center of the economy, could spread enough balance throughout the body economic to allow all or most other regulations to be dismantled.
Are there some clues about good design (dimensions?) or positioning?
Hunger? Anybody with money isn't hungry.
But you can't start with redistributing money cuz if you take money from rich A to give to poor B you turn B into a dependent and don't compensate A.
But if you take worktime away from overworked or workaholic A to give to unemployed or underemployed B you turn B into an independent self-supporting participant in the job market, and you give A a life.
In addition, to make sure everyone has money so as not to be hungry, all we have to do is make sure everyone has a good job cuz anyone with a good job isn't poor.
So everything points to balancing working hours first.
But where is the center of the body economic for positioning our single, worktime-balancing control?
Well, investors think that they and the financial markets are the center of the economy.
But the recent collapse of the financial markets because of the weakness of the rest of the economy puts the lie to that.
Poor? Anybody with a good job isn't poor. Which brings us back to jobs from another direction.
Work sharing puts an end to all the old, tired, silly, environment-bashing, constant worry and anxiety about creating jobs, saving jobs, protecting jobs, etc. etc. It is high time we quit jerking ourselves around by the livelihood. This will also help us give the coup de grace to menacing one another's lives.
The most important question for any economy in the non-market/immediate term is: at what rising percentage of the money supply and what diminishing percentage of the population does the concentration of the national income and wealth turn self-undermining...for starving its own consumer base, slowing the velocity of monetary circulation and destabilizing its own investments/storage repositories by diminishing the amount of marketable productivity? And what's the easiest, least arbitrary, most natural/organic way(s) to determine these two turning points/points of diminishing return?
The 4th book of the trilogy, "Our Language Acquisition - As a Species," incubating...
(as outlined to Kate Jurow and emailed to Rosemary Scragg (we are not making this up) on 9/01/2008)
you'll be interested in my revelations this morning after the dream - I thot, why do we have a masculine/patriarchal 7-day week? because we discovered a 7th planet right around the same period we were discovering WAR to protect our granaries after the agricultural revolution and the beginning of the sociological age 12,000 years ago.
in the previous anthropological age, the basic mouthing (myth) that we had developed around our cave and camp fires along with our language had been sun (day) and moon (month) based and when we eventually developed a longer-than-a-day schedule, our "week" (work/erg/energy) was six-day bursts/pulses and our year was 60 sixday weeks with an extra week of 5-6 days at the beginning (spring) added to make it come out right. And our number system was based on 60 (hexigesimal) cuz you could get easy fractions (1/3=20, 1/4=15 etc). And our weekstart was feminine/matriarchal Helena/Selena-Luna a la Moon Mercury Jupiter Venus Saturn SUN = Moon Tiu Thor Frigga Fimfi SUN = one two three four five sex = thumb index tall ring baby PALM (you're opening your fist finger by finger and pointing out the wandering nightlights (planetes) one by one in order of ease of viewing). There were tribal clashes but no war. Conflicts were solved by cunning ("queen/king"). As hunter/gatherers, we followed the plants and herds, and the moon controlled our fertility and behavior and some of theirs. This matriarchal age was widespread among our species and is written about in the article Das Mutterrecht by Bachofen. The tree story ("tree alphabet") was popular as told in The White Goddess: An Historical Grammar of Poetic Myth byRobert Graves.
Then came the agricultural revolution 10,000 BC, and we invented granaries to store/hoard food, and WAR to guard the granaries. As men became more important for fighting and needed more heartening to risk life and limb, we demoted the feminine Moon to second place in our week/work and promoted the masculine Sun to first place a la SUN Moon Mercury Jupiter Venus Saturn = SUN/SOL Moon Tiu(lightening) Thor(thunder) Frigga(finger/frig/fuck) Fimfi(pimp/pump/imbibe)/Saturn(sate/satyr/saturnalia) = start/sole(stars/planets/plans/general/parts/fractions) one two three four five sex = FIST thumb index tall ring baby. We were still six based, family-based.
But we soon after thought we should include another wandering nightlight that we hadn't included before because it wasn't white but red, Mars (Woden), the war god, and we slotted him right into the middle of our nice neat six-set Sun/Sol Moon Tiu v Thor Frigga Fimfi between lightening/Tiu/Mercury/swiftmessage/surprise and thunder/Thor/ZeusFather/ZeuPaetaer/Jupiter/think as either Woden's Day (Anglic Wednesday) or Mittel Woche (Teutonic Mitwoch). So we became seven-based, macho based, 52 seven-day weeks = 364 day year adding a day upon agreement when the counting slid out of whack, sacrificing our moon-oriented lives to seasonal/yearly agriculture and war schedules. Mars/March began the year because we (under our March Counts/Marchionesses/Marquis [go Colin!]) marched/marked the borders/marches our agricultural territory and warred against any encroachers. April/Aphrodite was the last winter month for the sixth activity, schnoozling with our sex partners, before parting for the seventh activity, macho war. English is such a great language for lingistic fossil hunting.
In a trully free wage market, there would be a balance between jobs of free time, high pay and job popularity - no small group of jobs would "have it all" and others none.
[2008-revised 2003 message to Massachusetts Global Action, now defunct:
You speak of mass layoffs and 130,000 lost jobs, but you still don't speak of sharing the vanishing work as technology takes over, and reducing the workweek as we did from 1840 (80-plus hours) to 1940 (40 hours) without pay cuts.
Anger > structured [=love] : Meek shall inherit [vs. Dr.House: episode re really nice guy with brain swelling from chaga], evol is selecting for trend from greater violence and drama to greater gentleness and variety - why? cuz allows better faster FEEDBACK and adaptation, and allows higher standards - take war as in Knightley's book, The First Victim : war clobbers feedback and standards [including morals, ethics, honesty etc etc] - how? charges of unpatriotic! and even treason! for any who give negative feedback, eg Russell and the dawn of censorship in 1855-56 Crimea - honor in war? HA! glory? haha - all intense efforts to counterbalance the horror and waste and clobbered feedback and standards/rules/respect of all kinds - but ... the vital population control?? - yes this vital function must be taken over by much less arbitrary*, more enforceable and enforced regulations on the three big population variables: imports, immigrants and births, in that order, each one requiring a higher level of resource-distribution balancing and centrifugation than the previous - so the key mgmt skill of the future is suturing shorter shifts, and the key personality trait of the future is the ability to convert/transform/cajole anger into structured love.
* requires identification of opposite values in the economy that should control further population inputs, eg, wage levels of existing minorities...
[this is the training step to go from one stage of progressive movement evolution to the next - identify stages involved & put a marker to this paragraph - and clean it up: sents, paras, caps etc]
dear sadpig - i am sorry you are sad - i think we'd have much higher expectations and standards for other species and ourselves if those of us who want a better world would look for the natural structure in our prettymuch random list of big problem issues - some probs if solved will do nothing to help solve otherprobs - or even make them harder - while some will make the solutions to some or all of the others easier, maybe much easier - so is there a natural order or priority in the big problems? do we need a strategy to be more effective (or even just 'effective' since we haven't fixed much since 1970 - infact, seems things have been gettin worse)? my answer is yes and my best candidate for top priority that would ease the solution of all the other big probs, including our treatment of our fellow lifeforms on this planet (hogs & sows & piglets - & calves a la veal!) is to quit threatening one another's livelihoods with downsizing & substitute timesizing = cut hours, not jobs = switch from government makework/job creation & camouflaged charity to private-sector worksharing refereed by gov't - it's all on my website at Timesizing.com - why is it the central big problem? cuz its solution would give everyone more free time and more income to focus on all the other big problems (why shorter hours more money? cuz wages fundamentally go by supply and demand, not hours or productivity - if wages went by hours, the Chinese would be the highest paid employees in the world cuz they work 18-20 hours a day but for...peanuts - the frozen workweek despite waves of worksaving technology has made us a surplus commodity - we're as common as dirt...and as cheap as dirt - so, no time and no money - just like slaves)
meanwhile thanks for your concern about pigs and all the horrible things we're doing to them (& ourselves) in a world where we've chosen advertising and the Gospel of Consumption & Indiscriminate Growth regardless of the long term or our environment in order to maintain a 1940 level of the workweek forever, instead of cutting the strain and just resuming our 100-year process of reducing the workweek (1840 over 80 hrs/wk, 1940 40 hrs/wk and frozen there ever since) - keep up the good work!
The two vital functions of any organism that are impeded when there is unlimited concentration of resources in a small area of the organism (compare cancer) are feedback-adaptability and circulation-resource maintenance. Therefore any system that has unlimited concentration of resources resists change and stays the same instead of adapting to changing circumstances, such as growing dangers and threats - and if "the same" is further concentration and worse feedback and circulation, that's what happens and self-deterioration accelerates, similar to lupus or auto-immune diseases (HIV...). Also, circulation slows so that repairs, if any, slow down, and even the resources that are concentrated start to deteriorate because they become more and more meaningless (more and more "resources" for less and less system).
So it is with an economy which has outgrown or disabled its value centrifuges, such as suffrage (one person, one vote - now nullified by plutocracy) and seniority (on-the-job aging - now nulllified by dogmas of "efficiency" and "merit") and charity (now nullified by scams and impeded access) and worklife reduction (longer credentialling and earlier retirement = isolating and inflexible) and workyear reduction (longer vacations = isolating and inflexible and non-existent in U.S) and workweek reduction (frozen at 1940 levels worldwide)....
The pithiest rebuttal to the statement that "technology creates more jobs than it destroys" is the Ford-Reuther Paradox. Ford: "Let's see you unionize these robots!" Reuther: "Let's see you sell them cars." - How can anything create jobs while destroying markets? And with mechanization, automation and robotization, wage "costs" are "saved," the "saved" money goes to wealthy investors, board members and executives who were already spending all they could before they got the last $10 million, and the lower brackets that spend a much bigger portion of their earnings get less and less, so even if in particular cases economists can prove that a specific technology created more jobs than it destroyed (and WHERE is the list of those cases, boys??) there are weaker markets for their output.
"Progress" is simply coming up with new sharing technologies in a halfway timely fashion to prevent the dysfunctional concentration of wealth and the spread of charity-supported dependency. Background - Over the long term, the biggest problem for humans has not been poverty, hunger or disease but this concentration of wealth and spread of dependency - together they have clobbered system feedback and led to system deterioration and destruction from within - top center. The wealthy - insulated, isolated and surrounded by cushions of various metaphorical types - never have a clue how hard they have to push to get real feedback or how much they have to share to have sustainable investments.
After reading "Britain's sinking economy" in 7/05/08 Economist (blurb p.3):
The Bank of England can't save it. Gordon Brown could save it but doesn't have a clue about the fundamental nature of the (global) problem. In market terms, 'surplus' is synonomous with "cheap." In longterm ecological terms, the problem is not the discipline of labor, but the discipline of management, and unless management regulates, yes I said regulates, its historical passion for fostering a surplus of labor to stomp wages (and spending power, and consumer markets, and customer base), it's going to see, is already seeing, sinking markets everywhere. The wealthy will eventually have to exchange their obsession with unlimited unsustainable income and wealth for limited sustainable income and wealth. From wanting MY share - unlimited (and unsustainable), to my share limited and sustainable.
The first economy that gets smart or desperate enough to solve the fundamentals and regulate management's historic fostering of unemployment and labor surplus will have to brave the jeers, fears, catcalls, sneers, ridicule, satire, hatred, disdain etc etc etc of all the world's powerful and well-connected, but they will rapidly outpace and outcompete and outsustain and outperform all the rest, because they will give every one of their citizen's more money, more self-respect and more free time to think about the long term.
How? Melt the frozen workweek and resume the secular reduction of the workweek that has been sandbagged in most economies since the middle of the last century (US 1940). This has drained management skills - who needs management skills when you have 5000 desperate resumes for every 5 open positions? What about the "shortage of labor" - sure employers who want the slave labor of illegal immigrants are always rationalizing it by loud public moans about "labor shortage" and all the jobs "that Americans won't do". And sure high tech "managers" who want to pass along all training costs to their cheap twenty-something employees are always going to overlook their huge pool of middle-aged layoffees to piss and moan about "labor shortage" - while they grab huge severage packages for mergers and acquisitions and running good companies into bankruptcy - like posterboy Chainsaw Dunlap and Sunbeam.
How get enough jobs - and training - for everyone, and get government (and taxpayers) OUT of the role of employer and charity of last resort?
Funny how the right is always complaining about regulation but somehow the totally regulated, absolutely FROZEN workweek is completely invisible to them. And it's not a market call - market forces can only operate and influence within the current framework/definition/slope of the market - they cannot reframe the overall market, or redefine it, or level its increasingly sloped playing field where the power gradient/shortage more and more favors the management/employer side and the weakness and surplus is more and more on the labor side, regardless of the Ford-Reuther paradox (Ford: "let's see you unionize these robots!" Reuther: "Let's see you sell them cars.")
Simple and obvious. Apply the same design principle that's applied EVERYWHERE ELSE to redesigning the economy: make the problem trigger its own solution. The problem is underemployment and low pay? Fine, let underemployment automatically determine everyone's fair share of natural, market-demanded employment, constantly shrinking as we introduce more and more technology. (And no, my dear mother-in-law, there are NOT enough jobs designing and servicing the technology to make up for the jobs it's taking over - otherwise, real wages would be stable or rising by market forces instead of stagnating and sinking sinking sinking.)
What's the best key to everyone's fair share of natural employment? The workweek. Longer vacations can't compare. Longer "educational" degree programs to keep youngsters out of the job market longer can't compare. Earlier and earlier retirement to get oldsters out of the job market sooner can't compare. It's gotta be the workweek.
How? The easiest, most gradual, most market-oriented way to handle this is timesizing(R).
If Japan for example does this, the solution will happen fastest for the world because Americans are used to writing adoring management books about Japan from the 1980s (Theory Z, Kanban, TQM, JIT...) before Japan betrayed its workforce, dropped lifetime employment, started imitating American downsizing and immediately plunged itself into an unending series of recessions.
The worst threat to the world is the fact that the people with the most cushions have the most power - no sport in the world could survive without resetting "games won" to zero every season, but season after season, there's no reset in economics - the imbalance just gapes wider and wider.
I've been consumed with the question, what is the master problem? What is the problem whose solution would fastest make easiest the solution of all the other huge problems of humanity - poverty, hunger, disease, war, the unlimited concentration and consolidation of income-wealth-power.... And the trouble is, the master problem does not sound as dramatic as all these, but it would decrease every one of them. It is joblessness, alias un- or under-employment. We have in the 'advanced' economies largely stopped jerking people around by threatening their lives - but until we quit jerking them around with job insecurity and threats to their livelihood, we will make nothing but glitzy but superficial progress as a species. Every age has its integrating paradigm, its centrifuge mechanism, its sharing technology - which first raises but then anchors an iron ceiling on creativity and then lowers the floor on cushioning and corruption and callousness and cruelty. We need to move on to the next level, the level of guaranteed full employment through automatic work sharing - and stop fostering job desperation and playing games with joblessness.
Genetics and social evolution explain the mechanism whereby "the Law" gets "written on people's hearts". In social evolution, it's the repeated generalization of the integrating paradigm = the centrifuge mechanism that does it and enables people to skip all the details that up to then had been matters of conscious concern and enforcement.
The crises are multiplying, just as the Limits to Growth foretold back in the early 1970s - Kevin Phillips lists the 7-8 current big ones in his recent book, Bad Money.
Legislators' salary should never exceed the mean annual income of the taxpayers who pay their salary, or they become insulated and isolated from their constituents, system feedback is lethally damaged, and the system goes into self-destruct mode. Notice that no other job in the economy can set its own salary which makes this ability a major and justified element in rightwind attacks on government. Legislators' salaries urgently need to become non-arbitrary, and this is the most intuitive variable for them to be based on - and automatically indexed to with no political interference allowed.
When are we truly at rest? Is it when we are dead? But death may introduce our consciousness immediately to another life of activity, any amount of time and space from now and here. We are truly at rest only between dreams while in this life - asleep. Sleep is timeless. We go to sleep at 11:30 pm and wake up at 7:30 am with no consciousness of the passage of time. Time does not stop - it telescopes. But notice that it does not reverse. Time is always, and only, one-directional - except in our dreams when relatives and friends we've lost come back to life - or we go back to when they were alive.
This is the time of my life when I am soooo oooold that I'm realizing all the things that my society has been hiding from itself. Example: Quebec has "I remember" (je me souviens) on its license plates. What are they remembering? You never got a straight answer. But after a recent email about a protest march in Quebec City, I realize that the most horrible, central thing they are remembering is that they are a conquered people. They are remembering the British Conquest of New France in 1759. Never mind the corruption of the French administration. Never mind the honesty of the British administration. Never mind the countless subsidies from AngloCanada in subsequent centuries, continuing today. Never mind their official policy of unilingualism today. Never mind the official bilingualism of neighboring New Brunswick. The only thing that will cure this humiliating memory for many Quebeckers is Quebec sovereignty, nee separatism.
Yet Quebeckers are the one population of French speakers with the most identification and stake in the accidental pre-eminence of English speakers at the moment. Do they want to rejoin France and be like St.Pierre et Miquelon, Guadeloupe and Martinique? Apparently not. Do they want to join the USA? Apparently not. If they were sovereign, maybe they could adopt Haiti and stop its cycle of self-destruction worsened by periodic US invasions. Maybe New Brunswick would cede its French speaking region.
But Britain gained the advantage in the 1600s, when it had luck after luck throughout five revolutions (pro absolutist monarchy, proParliament, prorelativist monarchy, proCatholic, proProtestant) while France was going backward into totalitarianism under the Sun King (system feedback drops). Britain killed its monarch (1649, Charles I) nearly 150 years before France (1791, Louis XVI). And Britain had already previously killed three of its monarchs (1280 Edward II, 1480 Richard III, 1545 Lady Jane Grey) and deposed four others (John, Richard II, Henry VI, James II). But now it's the French who are out on the streets protesting all the time, not the British, so the first are becoming last, dramatized by the failure of the British to get rid of PM Tony Blair when he dragged British soldiers into Iraq in deference to Bush Jr. France today also leads the world with the lowest nationwide workweek (35 hours), though current PM Sarkozy is doing his best to reraise it.
Economists and economics have become too corrupted by their ultimate pay source to ask the most important question: is there a point in the concentration and consolidation of income and wealth where it begins to undermine itself and weaken its own foundations? Is there a point of diminishing returns in the concentration of money? There is in every sports league - so every league starts every team at "zero games won" every new season. And thus the games have a measure of fairness. And the games are suspenseful. But there's nothing suspenseful or even interesting about economics and finance. There's no "reset" or "reset to default" as there is on all well-designed computer software that allows you to customize it to your own tastes. The "reset" or "default" option lets you get out of any incomprehensible trouble you may have got into by customizing in ways the software designers may never have predicted. But in ecnomics and finance, the have's and have-not's never start again on a level playing field, let alone the super-rich whose income and wealth are beyond imagination, way beyond spending, and also, ominously, way beyond investing. So talk about a level playing field is a joke.
And like so many professionals and academics, economists aren't looking for The Answer because they think they have it already.
Economists have never considered the necessity of designing a "running reset" - a homeostatic mechanism that can keep the whole system in better balance and more adaptive. Over time as the rich get richer, the system loses its adaptiveness because it can't change. As we said above, the people with the most cushions do the most decision-making - and they never really get bad news cuz their 'cushions' are so thick - they're surrounded by equally soft people who don't really like to offend them or tell them what they don't want to hear, so the badness of any bad news gets repeatedly weakened on its way to the wealthy - and when they then take over the whole system's news media, the whole system is in deep news deficit. And if we were them, we'd be doing the exact same thing and making the same 'creeping mistake.' It's a system thing, not an individual fault. It can only be corrected by system redesign, and probably repeatedly enhancing system redesign at that.
There are games with partial running resets - Monopoly has the Fortune and Chance cards, winning the kitty if you land on Free Parking (in some versions) and you get $200 every time you pass Go. If it weren't for these features, games would end a lot sooner. But in the economy, the imbalance goes on and on, getting more and more extreme. The ancient Hebrews had a reset - the 7-year jubilees and the 50-year great jubilee. The Indians of the northeast had their potlatches. The Hopi have their Katchina dances where food and prizes are thrown to the poor. Many economies have estate taxes and social security payments that keep things going to some extent. But today the concentration of money is beyond the capacity of any of the existing balancers to handle. We need something more systemic, more automatic, more continuous and more voluminous. Timesizing is a market-oriented design for a running system reset. And it does not make the common current mistake of assuming that market forces alone can do everything, such as redefine the market itself or adjust the "level" of its "playing field."
Management always worries about the discipline of labor - but in general they have the power to maintain that discipline. The real problem in the long term is the discipline of management, because in general no one else has the power to maintain that discipline and management is subject to the usual desire to make things easier and easier - for themselves.
The wealthy always assume infinity. The job market is infinite and can take any punishment. The consumer base is infinite and can take any punishment. The environment is infinite and can take any treatment, however risky or punishing.... In their assumption of the infinity of the job market, economists ridicule the need to share the natural, market-demanded employment, regardless of how much technological disemployment occurs or subsequent outsourcing. They're OK so they're oblivious to signs of trouble - like Phil Gramm calling poor Americans whiners.
As Will Rogers pointed out, when rich bankers whine Congress helps them, but when the poor whine Congress isn't interested, because the poor don't make campaign contributions. The whole system of voting evolved to offset the self-destructively self-cushioning tendencies of plutocracy and allow the system to get some real feedback. Once the rich drown democracy in money, the feedback function fails and the system can no longer adapt - ergo, transience.
We sometimes use the simple future in 'foretelling' what will happen when our economic architecture transitions into timesizing and its successors. But there is nothing automatic about this process. It takes conscious deliberate pushing on the part of employees to strengthen their function as system-feedback delivery units. Until and unless timesizing is achieved, there will be no fundamental progress on this planet, because we have not built the requisite common interest, and every step forward will be offset by one, two or more steps backward. Market forces cannot do this. The Market cannot redefine itself, only refine its existing definition. It cannot reframe itself or change the forces that determine the slope of its own 'playing field.' The closest we can come is to hold referendums of all market participants to make these aggregate determinations that the market cannot make for itself.
Karl Marx knew unregulated capitalism was self-destructive but his answer was for workers to take over the means of production, which translated into Nationalize Everything - which only works if you happen to have better managers in the public than in the private sector and if they either stop technological disemployment or resume workweek reduction.
John Maynard Keynes knew unregulated capitalism was self-destructive (he experienced the Great Depression) but his answer was for government to inject makework (alias public works alias featherbedding alias padding) into the economy - he halfjokingly suggested that half the population should be paid to bury bottles of money that the other half could dig up and spend - this kind of desperate makework is giving us overproduction and ecological disaster.
They both missed the real answer = resume workweek reduction, trim hours not jobs (and markets), keep everyone now with a job working and spending, and trim hours further to get those now jobless working and spending. And automate the process so the shortsighted, insulated and isolated plutocrats quit weakening and reversing it - to everyone's cost including their own.
For the super-rich, it's all a game - it's the only thing they know - so naturally they believe it's all a game for everyone else too. Thus, consumers are "holding back" - wilfully... optionally... it never enters their minds that consumers may no longer have the money....
Need a Don Rickles page:
Fixing the economy is real easy and real simple, but there are so many weird and supposedly clashing self-interests that it hasn't been done.
It's all about jobs. It all comes down to jobs. It all comes back to jobs. Jobs is what progressives should be talking about and aren't - at this moment in history. Everything else is frills. Everything else is derivative. Everything else is secondary - or lower priority. How bad is the level of distraction? Bad: "Hard times, but your lips look great" (E1 NY Times 5/01/2008). Jobs determine how much humans value themselves. If there is a labor shortage, they value themselves. If they allow a labor surplus and a job shortage to develop, they don't value themselves and we get headlines like this from all over the world: "Burma's death toll may top 15,000 - Junta is criticized in cyclone recovery" (A1 Boston Globe 5/06/2008). Compare all the downsizing headlines - today's: "Student loan firm to shed 500 jobs - First Marblehead hopes action saves it $200m" (C1 BG 5/06/2008). And this is virtually every day, day after day. Then we get "Downscaled hopes for an upscale mall [Natick MA]" (G1 BG 5/04/2008) and "Condo sales in Boston drop off - Prices are also down in a market formerly seen as bulletproof" (C1 BG 5/02/2008), and then "Virtual crime, it seems, pays well" (C1 BG 4/20/2008) and even "Determining who rides the lifeboat" (C1 NYT 5/02/2008). And what are the rich and powerful doing during this period? "Ahern bestows $2m on Kennedy library" (B1 BG 5/03/2008), in other words, taking coals to Newcastle. And everyone else? "Squeezed by prices, pantries ask help" (B1 BG 5/03/2008), in other words, giving a man a fish so he can live for a day = no longterm thinking.
It is absolutely necessary for all human societies to have adequate sharing mechanisms. If their sharing technology falls behind, we get the phenomenon of unlimited concentration of value, whether skills, employment, the money dimensions (income, wealth, credit...per person), and decision-making power. And no matter how much the wealthy think they are getting feedback, in myriads of ways they cushion themselves and insulate themselves - it happens too gradually for them or anyone around them to notice - and this builds a (self-)destructive situation of impeded and damaged system feedback. Once system feedback is compromised - damaged or distorted or constricted - the system cannot adapt to changing situations, it cannot evolve in the most adaptible and adaptive ways, it cannot maximize its chances of surviving. And it thereby makes itself vulnerable to being outcompeted by other societies and/or extinguished by changing natural conditions. By falling behind in sharing technology, a society thereby signs its own death warrant,
Comments on Soros' Reflexivity Theory of Economics
The Face of a Prophet - Soros craves respect for his theories, not just his money
- George Soros wants to make a lasting contribution to economic understanding,
by Louise Story, 4/11/2008 NYT C1.
[Soros has apparently been dismissed by mainstream economists, except the extraordinary Stiglitz, a personal friend - not that mainstream economists are in any position to criticize. A deepening of Soros' ideas from timesizing and worktime economics might make an interesting third avenue for accelerating human progress, third besides (1) developing a book based on Bruce O'Hara's "Working Harder Isn't Working" and (2) seeking working models from corporations like Nucor and Lincoln Electric to economies like Japan's - or Hungary's. For Phil Hyde (617-623-8080), effectiveness is more important than fame - Hyde's the name and hide's the game.... And so far Soros is known only as a financial trader and a philanthropist - frustrating for someone who senses that our "skimming and charity" economy just doesn't cut it.]
...Last week [Soros] rushed out a book, his 10th, ["The New Paradigm for Financial Markets,"] warning that the financial pain has only just begun.
"I consider this the biggest financial crisis of my lifetime," Mr. Soros said during an interview Monday.... A "superbubble" that has been swelling for a quarter of a century is finally bursting, he said....
[Well, insofar as the postwar babyboomers grew up and entered the job market around 1970-75, restoring the labor surplus of the Great Depression, depressing wages and allowing the national income to begin funnelling into an unlimited concentration, a "black hole" of money, in the top 0.001%, there is something to what he is saying. But it's not hollow. It's a superdense near-solid. The correct metaphor is not a bubble but a black hole (which itself contains a misleading implication of emptiness but only because the black holes of astronomy present a gap in the carpet of light sources in the night sky, because black holes are so massive, not even tiny light waves or photons can escape their humungous gravity). Such phenomena do not "burst." In the economic sphere they can either lose value through inflation, preferably healthily and gradually, or gain wasted and dysfunctional value through deflation, because there are no investments in which to sustainably store their increased purchasing power and the top hundred-thousandth of the income brackets have no time to spend it anyway (again "flation" is a metaphor that misleads our imaginations toward hollowness). Why are there fewer and fewer sustainable investments? Because by fostering a labor surplus and depressing wages, the wealthy have vacuumed the spending power out of the markets for the productivity in which they need to invest - that's why prices are falling - it's the only way to sell anything to millions of people who have less and less money once consumers are denied further credit.
[The superbubble metaphor could definitely apply more aptly to credit. We currently have record consumer, corporate and government debt. It's rather like the "New Economy" of the late 90s when return on investment became "old hat" = out of fashion - for awhile. When investors realized this was stupid and tried to get returns, the dot-com bubble burst because the markets for it just weren't there because the spending power just wasn't centrifuged out to all the millions who might want to buy it - instead, it was concentrating without limit in the top tiny fraction and that means it had changed function from spending power to investing power because that's what happens when you redistribute money up the income brackets - the topmost wealthy fraction don't have the time to spend that kind of money and besides, they were already spending all they cared to before they got the last $10 million. So the dot-com bubble "burst" by lenders having to accept that "there was no there there," and writing off billions of dollars of investment and loans as worthless. Now it's the bubble of housing loans. And all kinds of other investments. It's like a Monopoly game where one person grabs all but a couple of dollars of Monopoly money yet still expects the game to go on, despite the fact that none of the other players have enough money to buy property or even pay fines.]
Mr. Soros...yearns to be remembered not only as a great trader but also as a great thinker. The market theory he has promoted for two decades and espoused most of his life [is] something he calls "reflexivity".... The idea is that people's biasses and actions can affect the direction of the underlying economy, undermining the conventional theory that markets tend toward some sort of equilibrium.
[We had this idea in the early 1970s. in the following form: The fact that there are thousands of professional economists, many making six digits, and get the economic problems go on and on (chiefly in the early 70s the market's failure to sense and avert the Oil Crisis) probably means that there is something very very basic that all of us are doing every day - and taking for granted - that is sabotaging our economy and vitiating any deep-structure (Soros' "underlying") economic solutions and progress. Soros is groping toward setting up the quest for this same invisibly taken-for-granted Bad Habit that is so widespread as to be universal. This mysterious Bad Habit is preventing any hope of a level playing field for all market participants. In fact, it is sloping the playing field more and more, for fewer and fewer of the players. The surface-structure villain is obviously the so-called "income gap" to give it its unactionable name, or more actionable, the unlimited concentration of income and wealth - which is going to be very hard for "one of the world's richest men" (Soros) to be detached enough to see as a problem. I.e.: the problem is him. But deep structure to the rescue. There's something else going on, something systemic, that permits such concentration of income and wealth and gets rich guys off the hook a bit, enabling them to pose as our fellow victims of...The System. On with Soros' gropings -]
Mr. Soros said all aspects of this life - finance, philanthropy, even politics - are driven by reflexivity, which has to do with the feedback loop between people's understanding of reality and their own actions....
[Our version of this is the following: The top brackets have SO MUCH MONEY that they have drawn to themselves all the important decision-making in the socio-economic system, but they have also used it to insulate and isolate themselves from any negative feedback for any of their bad decisions; ergo, no feedback. Oh, they THINK they have feedback but, no pain, no gain. The weathy are surrounded by pleasant people who, if not completely Yes Men, are at least skillful diplomats and cushioners of any unpleasant news. Bottom line: we all live in a huge system which has virtually NO FEEDBACK and no adaptibility. We cannot change course. George Bush epitomizes this. No matter how bad the news from Iraq, no matter how deep America plunges toward total bankruptcy with its national debt now over nine trillion dollars, Bush, "the decider," will "stay the course." And we're all the lemmings. His policies, and those of most other world "leaders" today, amount to "Suicide, Everyone Else First." Investors, seeing mainly the financial markets, tend to think that the financial markets are the foundation and base of the economy, never mind the humble consumer markets (unsettling called the consumer base - funny they haven't tried to rename that yet). So it's OK for the government to rescue the financial markets (ie: the rich investors) and not the consumer base (ie: the poor spenders/purchasers) - so we keep getting more and more investing money and less and less spending money. Fine, except that investing money needs marketable productivity to invest in, and with less and less spending money in the economy, the markets for all that productivity are shrinking. Back to Soros -]
"To make a contribution to our understanding of reality would be my greatest accomplishment," he said....
[But he's running against the odds. Because he's rich, and in a very real sense, he, his richness, and that of those like him, IS THE PROBLEM. Does he have the detachment to confront this and move on - and down deeper - to the systemic rigidity that permits this kind of wealth? Recall G.B. Shaw's words, "It's not the rich who reform society - they don't have the incentive." Shaw goes on to say, "And it's not the poor who reform society - they don't have the means. It's the dispossessed sons of the rich." In other words, it's those in the middle who can see both sides. Here's some of his blindness -]
In 1992, his fund famously bet against the British pound and helped force the British government to devalue the currency. Five years later, he bet [against] the baht \and helped force Thailand\ to devalue....
Asked if it bothers him that people accuse him of causing economic pain [and] if those people are right to blame him, he says...no single investor can move a currency.... "Markets move currencies...."
[The super-wealthy have a corner in which they long to be average, at least when it suits their conscience. The assumption of invulnerable infinity often helps them to do this. "Currencies are invulnerably infinite, so no single investor (like me) could possibly move it." Now every business school and CEO is assuming that the job market is infinite - "We can lay off and downsize without a thought because the job market can take any amount of abuse without a ripple." It's like cod fishermen, "We can increase the size of our catch every year with no end because the cod fishery is infinite." Or the groundwater drillers, "We can pump out any amount of groundwater for irrigation and there will be no appreciable effect." Or the polluters, or the ozone depleters, or the population subsidizers, etc. etc. The Ecological Age is adawning, and all these assumptions of infinity are being questioned or outright exploded.]
Mr. Soros...has for decades longed to write a masterpiece that might put him among thinkers like Hegel or Keynes....
[So what is Soros missing (and everyone else, neighboring article has title, "Global Forum Calls for New Financial Controls")? He's missing the specific Bad Habit (rigid 1940-level workweeks or more). He's missing the real foundation market (consumer base) and like other managers and investors, not connecting the dots between employees and consumers, that is, between downsizing&outsourcing and weakening markets. He's (understandably) missing the strategic priority of the time dimension over any of the money dimensions, because if you take money from rich A to give to poor B, you're making B a dependent parasite and not compensating A, but if you take working hours from workaholic A to give to unemployed B, you're making B an independent self-supporter and giving A the most fundamental freedom without which the other freedoms are inaccessible, free time. But doesn't capitalism always maintain overlong working hours while injecting worksaving technology to make labor redundant and powerless and cheaper wage-wise? Isn't this a problem with capitalism per se? No, because capitalism worked very well during and after World Wars I and II (and during and after any series of plague years, like 1348, 1662,...) when there were labor shortages - in fact, it worked better. Here's a forceful presentation of this perspective from 1932: " ...By 1923 I had evolved the hypothesis that the evils of Capitalism - its unemployment, its very unequal distribution of wealth, its "economic imperialism," its plant duplications and wastes of distribution, and its...materialistic standards - were basically rooted in the public's failure to appreciably shorten the hours of labor while laborsaving machinery was being injected;
[...although we did cut the workweek in half from 1840 to 1940, but though on the right track, this was obviously too little too late, and we have frozen the workweek rigid ever since 1940 despite wave after wave of worksaving technology...]
i.e., that these evils were due to the public's failure, from the very beginning of the industrial revolution, to make Capitalism operate under a genuine scarcity of labor-hours, rather than under a chronic scarcity of job and business opportunity....
[This is from page x of Arthur Dahlberg's "Jobs, Machines and Capitalism." Now from page xii:]
This book is not an apology for Capitalism.... I am familiar with and dislike its shortcomings as much as anyone. But, unlike most critics of Capitalism, I believe that as a system of economy it has not had a fair trial. The trial has been long enough, true indeed, but never,- with the exception of a few years during the World war[s],- has Capitalism been permitted to function under a chronic "scarcity of labor." It has always been forced to operate under a scarcity of job and business opportunity; and, under such conditions, I maintain that Capitalism is necessarily in unstable equilibrium. I contend, however, that under a chronic and genuine scarcity of labor Capitalism is potentially almost an ideal system of economy....
[because labor scarcity harnesses market forces to raise wages and guarantee that a big enough portion of the national income gets spread out to those who want and need and have time to spend it, and consume their own productivity, and provide markets to make that productivity a sustainable investment destination for the investing power of the topmost fraction of the wealthy.]
Quoting from [and commenting on] "Recent Economic Changes - and their effect on the production and distribution of wealth and the well-being of society" by David A. Wells (New York: D.Appleton & Co.,1889), limited edition of 1000 (copy 231). The title suggests the character of the book is to reassure at least the wealthy, and as many others as possible, that everything's all right, the system's still working OK, and they don't need to worry about, say, technological disemployment, its weakening of the consumer base, and its destabilizing effect of the economy and society at large. By 'distribution' of wealth we are apparently to understand the channelling and concentration of wealth, in the 1880s, in the topmost income brackets without limit (as today, 2008).
First, the relevant paragraph on pp.394-95 uninterrupted:
...Evidence [questionable in view of the phenomenon of recurrent recessions], therefore, seems to lead to the conclusion that there is little foundation for the belief largely entertained by the masses, and which has been inculcated by many sincere and humane persons, who have undertaken to counsel and direct them, that the amount of remunerative work to be done in the world is a fixed quantity, and that the fewer there are to do it, the more each one will get; when the real truth is, that work ,as it were, breeds work; that the amount to be done is not limited; that the more there is done the more there will be to do; and that the continued increasing material abundance which follows all new methods for effecting greater production and distribution is the true and permanent foundation for increasing general prosperity.
[Now with commentary -]
[Note overall patronizing tone -]
...Evidence [questionable in view of the phenomenon of recurrent recessions], therefore, seems to lead to the conclusion that there is little foundation for the belief largely entertained by the masses...that the amount of remunerative work to be done in the world is a fixed quantity,
["The world" in some indefinite timeframe is not the problem - the problem is the corporations and industries that are downsizing in the immediate present or future. This would-be debunker has set up phony parameters that no one is arguing and that are easy to knock down.]
and that the fewer there are to do it, the more each one will get;
[This is exactly the strategy of his own profession of political economy (and many others such as medicine) in setting up high hurdles for would-be entrants - to increase and maintain their own pay.]
when the real truth is,
[Here we go - roll up your pant legs!]
that work ,as it were, breeds work;
[and any work that is routine, in whatever amounts bred, can and does get taken over by mechanization, automation, and now, robotization - with technology, quantity is no longer the problem - it's all a question of routine vs. unpredictability]
that the amount to be done is not limited;
[the amount to be done by humans is not only limited but reduced by the increasing amount done by machines, automata and robots and the diminishing amount demanded by a workforce constantly downsized, paycut, and outsourced]
that the more there is done the more there will be to do;
[not if we constantly downsize our workforce, our payrolls, and our consumer base, and constantly funnel a vaster and vaster ratio of the national income and wealth to the top tiny fraction who were already spending all they cared to before they got the last $10 million - plus if this were true, think about it, no one would ever be able to complete any work project.]
and that the continued increasing material abundance which follows all new methods for effecting greater production and distribution is the true and permanent foundation for increasing general prosperity.
[But the distribution never happens if the "masses" whom he's insulted above are repeatedly getting laid off and impoverished. The real foundation of general prosperity is labor shortage, as during plague years and wartime, - hence the famed "wartime prosperity" that one hears whispered about but that is never mentioned or explained by mainstream economists. It's simply that in response to a perceived labor shortage, employers have to bid against one another for good help, so wages rise and the national income flows in and out to the 'masses' who really spend it, instead of to the superrich who are just looking for sustainable investments, and without a labor shortage there are none, because by fostering labor surplus they have vacuumed the spending power out of the markets for the investments in which they need to invest, - ergo repeated recessions, nee 'depressions'.]
It is time to draw aside a veil of deception that has clouded the eyes of ordinary Americans for 75 years. In 1933, the USA almost passed a 30-hour workweek bill. Traumatized by that close call, the power elite set out to frame worksharing as a failure, a sharing of unemployment, a ridiculous and stupid approach that was gullty of the "lump of labor fallacy," The reframing worked, and the labor movement, which for almost the entire previous history of the American republic had gauged progress in terms of shorter and shorter working hours, gradually lost its focus on its power issue and refocused on eye candy that left it fighting market forces instead of harnessing them on its side. The success of a brief spate of nationwide worksharing between 1938 and 1940 was eclipsed by the ramp-up for war, which accomplished what worksharing did faster and with much more waste and destruction - but still got itself labeled a success and coined the term wartime prosperity. But after the war, unions, now focused on higher pay instead of shorter hours, gradually lost power and membership and functionality and importance, and shrank from 35% of the workforce to today's 13% mostly in the pub;ic sector.
But despite the huge and successful campaigns to the contrary, wages (labor prices) do not go with hours or productivity but, like all other commodities, with supply and demand. Investors never realized what was wrong in the Depression, because it was too close to themselves. But the problem was them. Their unlimited concentration of the national income and wealth was the problem. And by distracting attention from that and misdirecting attention onto a "problem" with labor, they succeeded in reframing labor's power issue (shorter worktime) as a failure and, ironically, guaranteeing that the economy would never rise much above depression in the future. Their strategy was right in line with Marx's old accusation, that the rich foster a labor surplus (a desperate "army of the unemployed") to keep maintain job insecurity, discourage wage demands and keep wages down.
The problem with that strategy, however, is that then the workforce can gradually purchase less and less of its own technologically amplified output and the rich have gradually less and less marketable productivity to invest in. And the alternative destination of the growing share of the national income that the workforce is no longer getting cannot purchase the output either because it's now going to the wealthy who, as Robert Reich points out (op ed, 2/13/08), were already spending all they cared to before they got the last $10 million. What are they doing with all the extra money that they schemed and manipulated to flow up to them instead of out to the lower income brackets? They're just looking to sock it into sustainable mega-investments - of which there are fewer and fewer, because by fostering ever deeper labor surplus and lower wages, the wealthy are effectively vacuuming the spending power out of the markets for the productivity in which they need to invest. In short, they have reconstructed the depression conditions of 1929, point for point, where there was still lots of money, but it was not in the hands of the hundreds of millions who wanted and needed to spend it. Instead, it had been concentrated, without limit, in the hands of the hundreds of thousands in topmost income bracket, the group that Paul Krugman describes as the top 0.001% (op ed, April 2006).
Reich recommends the usual nostrums to remedy the situation: by taxing the rich and increasing government spending on makework to redirect the national income to those who actually spend it instead of trying to invest it in unmarketable productivity. But this has only worked when spun as "defense" and crisis-coated with militarism, because otherwise it's been too little too late and very vulnerable to getting reversed by the top brackets, as we've seen recently, despite the suicidal nature of this policy for them though of course for them it's "suicide, everyone else first." The alternative is and has always been the disciplining of the power elite by fostering what they perceive as a labor shortage. War does this in the worst, most unecological way. Shorter worktime per person does it in the best, most ecological way. And also in a way that is gradual, market-oriented, grassrootsy, organic, and systemic.
The fact is that it's the discipline of management that is the critical problem in the long term, not the discipline of labor. And by fostering labor surplus instead of a by-them-perceived labor shortage, the power elite have kept their management skills low and their customer base small. They have suppressed and tabooed the most important questions in economics, namely, is there a point of diminishing returns in the concentration of income and wealth beyond which such concentration starts to undermine itself? and, how do we determine that threshold and how do we achieve and maintain it?
We have the additional difficulty that the money dimensions, income and wealth per person, cannot be balanced first because if you take money from A to give to B, you turn B into a dependent and you don't compensate A. By contrast, if we start with the time dimension and take worktime from workaholic A to give to unemployed B, we turn B into an independent self-supporter and give A a life - free time for his/her familty, spiritual life, civic responsibilities, and oh yes, time to get rested up.
Plus we have the difficulty, shown in the letters to the editor that greeted Roberet Reich's op ed, that people are confused by the term "consumer base" and immediately on behalf of the environment react against increased consumption, not realizing that what is meant here is not unecological overconsumption but simple, economy-sustaining purchasing and selling, much of which has no environmental impact whatever and almost all of which could be of that sort. Hence we should be reframing "consumer base" as "customer base." The irony is that overconsumption is the least of our problems in an unlimited-concentration economy, because consumers, oh sorry, customers, don't have the money - the rich have it all. As Will Rogers said when people asked him who was going to pay for all his big recovery program, he said, "Wal, I guess the rich are going to come up with the money 'cause they's the only ones that's got any." It's not overconsumption that's the problem in a labor surplus, - it's increasingly desperate overproduction to try to provide destinations for all the extra investing power. As money gets redistributed up the income continuum, it changes function from spending power to investing power, and in an unlimited money-concentration, labor-surplus economy like ours, consumption is constantly weakening due to the funnelling of the national income to the topmost fraction of the population. The Ford-Reuther Paradox sums it up nicely. Ford, "Let's see you unionize these robots." Reuther, "Let's see you sell'em cars."
Again, every sports league starts every season with zero games won for all teams. Every culture too had a reset, from the Hebrew jubiliees to the Tlingit potlatch to the Hopi katchina dances, where resources are redistributed from those who have too much to those who have too little. Only in unlimited-concentration, labor-surplus economies do we have a situation where the concentration of money just goes on and on, year after year, straining whatever integrating mechanisms that still survive in the society at risk until they snap.
At the very least we need a two-gear approach, a first gear to boost consumption to save the economy and a second gear to cut consumption to save the environment.
How do we redistribute work? Tax overtime, subsidize OT targeted training and hiring and hitch the workweek to the unemployment rate, redefined to include the whole problem (welfare, disability, homelessness, prison, forced retirement, forced self-'employment'). A confiscatory tax on overtime profits (corporate) and earnings (individual) and a generous subsidy on overtime to training and hiring conversion would do the trick.
But doesn't the devil find work for idle hands to do? With the concentration of natural market-demanded employment among fewer and fewer employees, hands are idle anyway, and desperate - because they have no money. Better to have a larger leisure class with lots of money (*pickup how more pay with less work later) because then the leisure industries can find work for "idle" hands to do, as it did in France in 2000 when they jumped from 39 hours a week to 35. This has been spun as a failure by a careful selection of the start and end dates of the experiment but when it was voted in unemployment was 12.6 and after it was done but before the US recession hit France unemployment was 8.6, one percent less for every hour cut from the workweek.
I'm hitting Kate's writing wall, can't stand anymore, drop everything point. ?
What we've got:
makework&disability capitalism thanks to downsizing and unlimited concentration of income and wealth
what we could have:
market-oriented full-employment capitalism thanks to timesizing and $concentration limited to levels that can find stable sustainable investments
Basically there's political economy, economic economy, and ecological economy. Economic economy (aka infinite economics) is based on the naive assumptions that resources are infinite - including the consumer base and the job markets which can be milked indefinitely with no serious let-alone-permanent damage - while the free market is omnipotent and can automatically balance and offset any withdrawal no matter how large.
Ecological economics relies on automatic design features to guarantee at much finer levels the equilibrium that infinite economics so naively and blindly assumes (despite mounting contrary evidence).
Economic design simply applies the design principles that are applied everywhere else from aeronautics to software, to the economy. Such as homeostasis. Deliberately designed homeostasis. Not homestasis that is disingenuously assumed to be automatic in the nature of things à la "invisible hand." Really, what a crock the power elite have put over on the rest of the income brackets!
You want a true picture of the "invisible Hand"? The so-called "invisible Hand" of economics is simply the very visible hand of politics, namely, the spreading vote leading its balancing effect into the economic sphere. And not only is spreading suffrage in politics very visible but it is also very deliberate and design-based = nothing automatic about it at all, but it is also the very opposite of the concentration of money because the whole evolutionary purpose and function of the vote is to offset the system-feedback-numbing effects of the unlimited concentration of money and allow the socioeconomic system to make some fundamental and vitally necessary changes of course, regardless on ongoing dysfunctional money concentration.
And why is unlimited money concentration dysfunctional? Because (1) the top brackets not only have enough money to draw to themselves all the important decision-making in the system - they also have enough to insulate and isolate themselves from any negative consequences of any bad decisions they make and, no pain, no gain in terms of real course-changing feedback. And large systems absolutely depend for their long-term survival on variability. (2) Unlimited concentration also gets dysfunctional because it begins to act like an economc black hole without functionally infinite space around it - it vacuums all the spending power out of its own foundational consumer base and markets and slows the currency circulation from the volumes and speeds required to sustain itself, and these are the markets for the productivity it needs to invest in. Ergo it stops investing and just starts storing money under the mattress and thence the stored entitlement becomes mere meaningless symbol, with no use value or function except as positional goods, and as such vulnerable to efficient, impatient and increasingly, ecological, puritan-like housecleaning and destruction. So, unlimited concentration of value (such as money) means no functional and sustainable value-storage (=2), and no system feedback-variability-adaptibility or long-term survivability-continuability (=1).
FAQS about our deteriorating economies -
The answer to the question, how do we control growth rather than growth controlling and extincting us is, control the source of growth. What is the source of growth? Models of more. What is the ultimate model of more? The unlimited concentration of value among an ever-smaller population limited only by the natural minimum, one (and then, zero, if that one goes mad and destroys it all, or at least all parts that aren't already destroyed by the lack of circulation, eg: currency circulation, in their base, eg: consumer markets).
The answer to the question, what is the ultimate cause of inflation, is the same, the unlimited concentration of value among an ever-smaller population. And the subsequent operation of derivative phenomenon, envy or the desire to share in the advantage(s).
Is there a form in which this is in the public debate? Yes, it is the "income gap," but that is a safe unactionable description of the problem which sounds like an act of God against which we are helpless.
What makes possible this hyper-concentration? The shortage of the entitled and the surplus of the unentitled.
What causes these relative proportions? Generally, the entitled do everything they can think of without destroying basic continuity to increase the shortage of themselves and the surplus of the non- or less-entitled.
Is there a way to limit and reduce the unlimited concentration of value, ie: to centrifuge and deconcentrate value, without revolution and violence? Yes. The concentration has always been limited and even reduced by reversing the increase in the surplus of the non-entitled, in other words, by decreasing the surplus of the non- or less-entitled.
How has this been done before? Usually by war (yielding "wartime prosperity") or plague (yielding the less-talked-about "plaguetime prosperity").
How does it work? By killing off part or all of the surplus of the unentitled and harnessing natural "market forces" to spread the value, eg: the money, eg: it gets employers bidding against one another for good help and not even government wage control boards can stop this healthy process, which basically gets a larger share of the national income flowing out into the hands of people who actually spend it instead of funnelling it without limit into the hands of the top 0.001%, who were already spending all they cared to before they got the last $10 million. (Money changes function as it gets redistributed up the income continuum from poor to rich - it changes from spending money to investing money - and if the rich have concentrated enough money in few enough hands, they weaken their own foundation, the consumer base, and vacuum the spending power out of the markets for the productivity in which they need to invest, ie: they recreate 1929. But there is a distinct threshold at which the concentration of national income and wealth shifts from self-strengthening to self-undermining, and it is seldom if ever spoken of in the English-language economies. Why? Because the top 0.001% generally own the news media and the public-debate-setters and they insist that anyone who brings up this topic either drops it immediately, gets fired, or gets promoted away from the "Big Microphone." Notice how quickly candidate John Edwards was excluded from the top runners in the Democratic primaries in January 2008. Isn't this to the longer-term disadvantage of the top 0.001% and isn't the longer term arriving faster every year? Yes and yes but the habit is set and they are running toward the cliff with the rest of the lemmings, all the others first.)
What is this in terms of economic variables? War or plague reduces the surplus working hours on offer in the job market and gets employers competing against one another for good employees.
Is there a non-usual way to do this? Yes, by reducing the share-per-person of natural market-demanded employment, ie: by cutting the worklife (by longer credentialling on the incoming and earlier retirement for the outgoing), workyear (longer vacations), workmonth, workweek and/or workday (shorter hours). Most effectively, by cutting the workweek. The Timesizing program is the most gradual and market-oriented way to do this.
Has workweek reduction as a way to centrifuge the national income and wealth ever been tried and tested? Yes, the USA cut its workweek in half (80 to 40) between 1840 and 1940 and avoided gross unemployment and poverty as it introduced more worksaving technology on one hand and more immigrants and babies on the other hand - and all the other "developed nations" did the same in roughly the same or a slightly later timeframe, though a few are just finishing the process now, eg: South Korea is currently in the midst of a seven-year nationwide reduction from 44 hours a week to 40. In 1938 this process became systematic in the USA and a nationwide workweek maximum was established for the first time (at 44 hours) which was then reduced two hours a year for the next two years. Unemployment went from 19% to 17.2% to 14.6%, roughly one percent reduction for each hour cut from the workweek.
In 1997 France voted to cut the workweek from 39 to 35. This process dribbled on till early 2001. Unemployment was 12.6% in 1997 and 8.6% in 2001 before the US-led recession hit France that summer, again one percent less unemployment for every hour cut from the workweek.
Unions have shot themselves in the foot by dropping their power issue. Their historic main goals are shorter hours and higher pay. If they can just get one and its higher pay, they wind up with neither because they're just pinning an artifically higher price on a surplus commodity, themselves, and fighting market forces. But if they can just get one and its shorter hours, they wind up with both because they're harnessing market forces by reducing the surplus of themselves and their labor time, and getting employers bidding against one another, raising wages flexibly and gradually, to get good help, or in the extreme case, any help.
But don't we already have a shortage of labor - we NEED illegal aliens to do the jobs that no Americans would do. Think about it, if these jobs weren't paid slave wages and worked slave hours, plenty of under and unemployed Americans would do them. The winking at the invasion of desperate illegal entrants just guarantees that those jobs will never be paid a decent wage or have civilized working conditions.
But won't this generate inflation in America? Wages will go up but so will our consumer base and economic solidity. If this is inflation, it is healthy, needed inflation. Only "runaway" inflation is a problem. Gradual inflation is nature's way of deconcentrating the black hole of income and wealth in any economy. And our only current inflation control is ridiculous anyway, it's raising interest rates - which discourages businesses from expanding and creating new jobs and thus cuts employees' job options and scares them out of asking for raises (which would deconcentrate income and wealth and increase consumer spending, markets and sustainable investment targets) or trying other jobs in which they might be happier, thus increasing the net resentment and pent-up need for compensation and raises (and inflation) in the economy. Timesizing has a much healthier, more organic and natural way to control inflation.
[I work like Will Rogers, unconnected flights of brilliance, sigh, maybe here some connections....]
Why isn't this strategy being discussed in the English-language economies? In America, it was uppermost on people's minds and lips from 1940 back to 1840 and back to the first unions in the1790s - almost right back to 1776 (though there were other problems in the early years, like the mitosis with Britain). It has been fought and smeared at least since the 1920s by short-sighted employers who wanted to reneg on their promise of easier lives through new technology (which requires shorter working hours and is sustainable), and substitute artificially stimulated demand (the "Gospel of Consumption") and the massive private-sector makework of advertising campaigns (now unnoticedly common and extended from annoying commercials to waves of junkmail to spam and adware), not noticing that with downsizing instead of timesizing they were removing the very possibility of their consumer base purchasing their own productivity, and thence the complete suicidal insanity of economists' incessant talk about productivity without regard to marketability and the ignoring of the inefficiency of unmarketable productivity in the context of obsessing about efficiency in technology and pressure from the environment
. Any discussion of worksharing is now totally taboo, like the unlimited concentration of income and wealth with which it is mutually reinforcing. Any mention of either and you are immediately labelled and dismissed from any further serious conversation. In fact, if you mention worksharing in any form besides mere lifestyle choice, you are treated as a deluded fool who believes in the Lump of Labor Fallacy (which should actually be called the Decline of Employment Truism).
In fact, many workers in this vinyard have fallen off the third rail. Dahlberg went to depreciating currency in his next book, unnecessary because inflation does that function more gently and gradually and automatically. Schor went to consumption, unnecessary because the impoverishment of the consumer base does this automatically, though in a worse way. Some go off trying to get a better index than GDP, unnecessary because the best top-priority general index is the unemployment rate, especially if we redefine it to include the whole problem of non-self-support.
In summary, the English-speaking economies cannot discuss their own worst problem or their own historical best solution. Since they have enough resources to ensure that they suffer last, it will take a huge deterioration of their host economy and repeated relexifications of the terms of the problem description before they begin to understand what they are doing to the economy and how fundamentally simple and destressing the most market-oriented solution is, essentially just redefining unemployment to include the whole problem of non-self-support, letting the unemployment rate automatically adjust the workweek, and letting overtime target, trigger, pace, gauge and finance its own resolution in terms of OT-to-training&hiring = the Timesizing process.
But won't we eventually have to confront the income and wealth divide? Yes, but we can't do that first. If you take money away from A to give to B, you just turn B into a dependent and don't compensate A. But if you take work away from workaholic A to give to unemployed B, you turn B into a self-supporting independent individual and reduce unemployment and welfare and disability and crime taxes on A and give A a life.
What if A wants to work long hours? Under the Timesizing program, s/he can - as long as s/he reinvests overtime/overwork earnings in OT-targeted training&hiring, thus proving that s/he's doing for love, not money; in other words, has deflationary, not inflationary, incentive for overworking relative to whatever the economywide workweek has currently been pushed down to by the unemployment rate.
But with discussion of its own worst problem and its own best solution tabooed and ridiculed, the English-language economies are in for serious decline, probably as far down as the levels of their big rivals, population-wise, China and India, because overpopulation can always sabotage the smartest economic design (India in the 1920s), as can central bank fiddling (Germany's Stinnes in early 1920s), and the US progressives have been seduced into irresponsible immigration policies by charges of racism or cruelty or ahistoricism ("nation of immigrants"), though they have zero discussion of the optimal population levels of the American ecosystems and ignore the question of how we help the third world when we've overpopulated ourselves to their levels and degraded wages and benefits and safety standards to their levels. So we can barely get this background problem into the public discussion.
Meanwhile, global warning goes on apace. And we can't even get agreement from the top 0.001% on the facts of its existence. As mentioned, they have the resources to be the last to suffer.
Anders Hayden thinks the ecological pressures will be the active constraints that will drive solution. I think the dysfunctional economy with its steering function insulated and isolated among the top 0.001% will guarantee that any ecological pressures will be translated into economic pressures long before the public at large feels any unanswerable direct effects from global warming, regardless of increased erratic weather, thunder and wind storms, and the already acute experience of Australia.
Progressives are giving rightwing nutcases massive undeserved opportunities by adopting bleeding-heart anti-ecological positions on population and employment.
First, their immigration policies are irresponsible in the extreme = immigrants: move everyone in the world onto the "advanced-economy ecosystems without limit, no birth policies, and as for imports, buy simplistic "free trade" regardless of how it guts your own middle class.
On employment, variations on Bucky Fuller's tragic error of "lifetime research scholarships," with no accountability or incentive design mentioned.
Employment is underrated and much neglected. But employment is nature's way of carrying species (and individual-specimen) viability into the increasingly artificial systems and worlds set up by "intelligent" species. Without it there is no fundamental accountability to the basic Universal Mandate: "Continue - And whatever continues better, there gets to be more of."
We cannot continue by clobbering employment - and the huge consumer markets that depend on it. The sacrosanct rigid-length workweek must be sacrificed again.
The Great Integration: Superceding Charity
As suicidal weapons technology advances by leaps and bounds, the era of "integrate or perish as a species" confronts humanity. This is the age when the plutocrats either accept "no pain, no gain" commonality with the rest of the world, or commit suicide, everyone else first. The compassion and empathy must be incarnate in specific design features, and the first element to be impacted: schedule. This is the Great Time Integration. No civilizations anywhere in the Universe can avoid this stage, try as they may to do anything and everything else first. Charity is impotent compared to the results of this stage.
As the frozen 1940-level workweek persists, seemingly as an unnoticed part of the woodwork at least in the English-language economies, we must now sacrifice longer working hours ("work hard to get ahead") and even constant hours, for the sake of two more pressing linked-values; namely, self-support ("independence," lack of resentment from otherwise put-upon neighbors), and secondly, the integration of the population. In regard to the latter, we have reached a point where unregulated working hours in a context of more and more efficient and productive technology (mechanization, automation, robotization) is splitting the population into workoholics and parasites, and as this split goes deeper, it makes the population (economy, polity, literary tradition, society/agronomy, language area) increasingly unstable and self-deteriorating.
Paradigm Completion is one of the linguist's main tools if s/he stretches into economic design, i.e., redesigning one's own socio-economy from within, which is like operating on one's own retinas; for example (asterisk* means unattested):
Our current growth economics talks the talk about growth but walks the walk of shrinkage ... here's how -
Bad Priorities -
Do we want to be focused on making people work the "regular hours" of the pre-automation age regardless of fewer consumers and more beggars and charity cases? or do we want to focus on maximum markets via full employment regardless of how few hours we're required to define as "regular hours"? = making all people work to support themselves, regardless of how few hours per week that comes down to, rather than holding a 1940-level of the workweek while injecting more technology and making more people beg, and more markets weaken?
Do we want to be focused on super-high-quality of health insurance for a diminishing subpopulation who can afford it, or getting basic health insurance for the entire population in an age of crowding and hence, easy transmission of numerous unpredictable plagues? (AIDS, Hanta, bird flu, E-bola, ...)
Philip Hyde III is an historian and linguist who is developing the disciplines of economic design and worktime economics. His purpose is to reform mainstream economics into a true science from the quasi-religious hodgepodge of dogmatic turfs, selective data and taboo topics that it's become. Hyde anchors the largest website on worksharing in English, Timesizing.com, with five years of data from major American newspapers plus commentary from the worktime-economic viewpoint. (Timesizing refers to trimming working hours and keeping everyone employed and spending, instead of cutting jobs, spending, markets, and investments.) Hyde's publications focus on worksharing systems, social evolution, and measurement design. He ran for Congress three times against the Kennedy's to soundbyte and bulletproof a "timesizing, not downsizing" agenda. Hyde has a background in teaching, university administration and high tech in the Boston area. He holds a BA in ancient languages and history and an MA in linguistics, both from the University of Toronto. He now splits his time between Boston and the Québec side of Ottawa, Canada.
(so we can initiate contact at one of the 2-hour monthly meetings rather than the 2-day retreat in Arnprior, 13-14/10/2007)
Achieving Ecological Goals Will Require the Nuts & Bolts of Economic Design (& it can't be entirely as the soft-hearted prefer)
"What's the economy for, anyway?" We interpret this as, "What is the purpose of our current economic design and what should it be?"
Judging by current and historic performance, the purpose of our current economic design is to concentrate value in the topmost income brackets without limit. "Value" refers to income and wealth per person, but it also includes, in the topmost brackets, credit whenever necessary and system-wide decision-making power, and in the neighboring top brackets, skills and employment. This is dysfunctional, unsustainable and even self-destructive in three ways.
Change wording of the six great inventions or discoveries or emergences to six great "secrets" à la Sid Myers' Civilization game?
Change focus from workweek to workday à la history of worktime-per-person reduction?
Why has the critical shorter-hours agenda been so inactive since 1940, over two generations? One reason was the immediate interruption of World War II. But if we learn from history, this agenda progressed when focused on the work day. The 12-hour day and the 10-hour day before the Civil War in the nearly 90 years since the Declaration of Independence, and the 8-hour day after the Civil War, gained only in 1940, 75 years after the Civil War. People have an easier time with the day than the more abstract week. They can do something today to help the economy and unemployed neighbors. "Look after the pennies and the dollars will take care of themselves." Look after the days and the weeks and weekends and vacations (vs. workyears) will take care of themselves.
CEOs say that free trade is good for everyone but they are liars and hypocrites. They practice protectionism for themselves and their private clubs, but promiscuousness for everyone else, dolled up under the name "free trade." They are suicidal - everyone else first.
Free trade is nothing but a way for them to extend the population from which they vacuum the spending power and consolidate it as investing power in their own few pockets, on the assumption that any amount of concentration is fine; in fact, the more the better. The concentration of a nation's income and wealth can and should be infinite, say they.
Moreover, they say that distribution and centrifugation of same should be minimal or zero - in fact, anyone who talks about distribution is labeled a communist to cut off the discussion (but this discussion includes the most important issues in economics, all taboo to even think about). Anyone who talks about redistribution or the spreading or sharing-around of money is spreader of dependency or a parasite-breeder - which is true if they advocate it before or apart from redistributing employment - but anyone who talks about redistribution of employment is a fool who believes in the Lump of Labor Fallacy. Thus they and their corruption of the "science" of economics have forestalled discussion on the most important suite of questions in economics: is there an optimal ratio of concentrated spending power to deconcentrated investing power and ifso, where do you draw the line, how do you determine that point (or range), and how do you set up (design) your economy to homeostatically seek that point?
But au contraire, CEOs have succeeded in suicidally stifling discussion of all this. By their theory, everything is infinite and can take any amount of abuse. The consumer base is infinite and can take any amount of workforce downsizing and consequent spending-power downsizing - in fact, there is no particular relationship between the workforce and the consumer base. And who cares, because the workforce too is infinite and can take any amount of downsizing; the job markets are infinite and can absorb any amount of workforce downsizing and labor surplus; and of course, investors are paramount and have no particular need for a consumer base anyway. In fact, investors need no consumer base, no employment base, no velocity of currency circulation and actually no particular circulation of the currency at all.
And all this has brought us to where we are - an economic edifice that is more like a ramshackle series of outhouses, patched with boards, bandaids and short-term fixes, poised on the brink of a cliff that is invisibly eroding, unaddressed by mainstream economists or media, who hope that if they ignore it it will go away, presumably by stopping and re-enlarging. But fears persist and mount, and it's harder and harder to calm them by the pathetic armory of weapons in the "toolchest" of the central banks, which amounts to only one weapon as it turns out; namely, the reduction of interest rates to make credit more available, and even this weapon is a two-edged sword, because it helps investors restore confidence while reducing the rents they receive on their vast accumulations of money. And if they should cut interest rates too much too fast, and the general public isn't yet impoverished enough to avoid a rush of purchasing, the Specter of Inflation "forces" central banks to unleash their armory of weapons against inflation, which again turns out to be a toolchest of just one tool, and that one tool is destructive, because it consists only of raising interest rates and raising interest rates clobbers growth.
So any which way that CEOs and their well-tamed economic "scientists" turn, they are suicidal - everyone else first. They are self-deluded by their insulation and isolation and their complete lack of feedback, surrounded as they are by yes-men and people who so cushion any bad news as to render it ignorable. So they have given the rest of us (Quebecois "nous autres") a huge system with no system feedback. Can that do anything else but self-destruct? (Clue: yes, but only with some form of timesizing.)
It's not just share. It's defining an individual person within our intelligent species. No definition of resources that can be accessed, no complete definition of a unit of our intelligent species because we're still just describing physical powers accessible, same as all other species.
Worktime economics, the keystone that the anglophone economists derided,
the critical path that American economic "historians" ignored.
According to an article in June 18/2007 Time magazine, Bill Gates is withdrawing from active leadership of Microsoft to concentrate on solving big problems, but they are on the level of world health (never mind determining and maintaining ideal population levels) and education. Ill health, like starvation, is just a symptom of poverty. So is lack of education. However, Gates has focused on the symptoms instead of the disease of poverty, and the fact that there are four kinds of poverty and they must be addressed in a non-optional order, forming, in essense, a critical path of four big problems:
How can CEOs claim to worship Growth when they constantly indulge in downsizing? Evidently the only thing they worship is the short-term fattening of their own dysfunctional pocketbooks.
We humans have always had trouble with overconcentration of resources. But now, our ineptitude in this area is threatening our survival. The deconcentration, or as we prefer to call it, the centrifugation of resources has two vital functions that are impeded when resources, including decision-making power, are not spread around. First, centrifugation enables much better feedback for the health, long-term survival and sustainability of the whole population, including those in the top income brackets. And it allows the concentration of resources on an appropriate scale - and whole system - to grow steadily and sustainably (one step forward, another step forward,...) instead of in surges and crashes - which are often not just two steps forward and one step backward, but two steps forward and three steps backward, any incidence of which, at our current levels of destructive power (nuclear and toxins) could completely snuff us out, set intelligent life on this planet back hundreds of millions of years, or even set zoological life back a billion years. We need more gracious scientists who publish and popularize their findings much more readily than evolutionists have over the past century. And we need more courageous scientists who speak truth to power more readily. And we need better educational curricula, especially in the elite schools, that substitute civics and ecology for glorification of past wars and the infinite-concentration-is-fine fallacy that permeates economics and business administration today. Only in these ways can we ensure that a suicidal doctrines like "neo-conservativism" and "neo-liberalism" do not evolve and take root.
Work is quintessentially the discharge of our responsibility from the universe and from reality - namely, simply, to continue. Continuation requires meeting the basic requirements of our existence: food and shelter and reproduction. We once all hunted, fished, gathered, and reproduced (and died). Now we work (and die), making work a very generalized type of hunting, fishing, gathering and reproduction, suitable to a very wide diversity of personality types - we have generally managed to keep protagonist reproduction . (For the gradual shift from the relay continuity of reproduction and death to maintenance continuity via spare parts, see 500-year view on our Transition Beyond page.)
The mechanism for the generalization is called the market. The market is an immense and immensely diverse and variable combination of activities of exchanging services, A's hunting for B's fishing, B's fishing for C's gathering, C's gathering for D's shelter, D's shelter for E's reproduction, E's reproduction for A's hunting, and all combinations and permutations of these trades. All services are quantifiable and mutually comparable at the simplest level in terms of time, and time operates simply by comparing any activity to the repeated and negligibly unconstant momentum of the sun across the sky, and the inferred complete circle of that motion, and the further inferred substitution of more efficient rotational motion of the ground we're standing on, and its inferred connection with an immense, roughly spherical mass called Earth. All products, which contemporary short-term economists tend to over-focus on, actually represent underlying human services and worktime - though this is getting more and more indirect and telescoped by mechanization, automation and robotization - and, to repeat, all services are quantifiable and mutually comparable at the simplest level in terms of time.
Work is secondly the temporary transfer of control from the individual to universal requirement of continuity, via the market. The temporaneity of this transfer of control is accomplished by the specification of a definite time period (wage work) or for definite tasks (piece work) in return for money. Money is defined as generalized access to the services and products of other individuals' time and tasks. Work is therefore the opposite of individual freedom, but work is good and necessary to perform one irrefutably vital purpose: it ties every working individual into a synergistic entity, the market, which in the most unoppressive possible way provides and distributes whole-system feedback to every one of its parts (individuals) and facilitates the continuation of all.
The market is the immense natural organism whose function it is to harmonize all levels and extents of self-interest within a given population via myriads of money vs. product/service transfers. However, the internal operations of the market cannot harmonize the market as a whole with its environment. The must be done by referendum of the constituent population.
A population is generally defined as a group of humans speaking the same language on a continuous land area.
On the evening of August 3, 2007, in Ottawa, Canada, took place the memorial service for Michael Cass-Beggs of Gatineau-secteur-Hull across the river in Québec. The cause of death was given as "heart attack," but one suspects this was just to assuage the guilt of all his relatives and friends who failed to get him the technology he needed to live normally with his diabetes and erratic blood-sugar levels. (Some of us only heard about this technology in talking to people after his death.) Thus his death was unnecessary and premature.
The overwhelming impression left by the memorial service was that this guy was a multi-talented idea man who traversed many many worlds, not all of which were visited or even mentioned during his memorial service: childhood, brotherhood, fatherhood, CBC Radio, politics, economics, activism, chorale music, drama, public relations, poetry, art-drawing, modeling, Unitarianism, Anglicanism, la chasse a femme, eroticism, film, video, history, technology, philanthropy.... To say Michael Cass-Beggs was creative would be the understatement of the century. While he worked for the CBC in Montreal, he had the resources to produce big events. But once he was laid off in the 1982 recession, he never had a fulltime professional job with that kind of resources. The closest he came was his 15?-year tenure as choir director of the western unitarian congregation in Ottawa. Then when he lost that job in the later 1990s, he never again exceeded a stitching together of part-time jobs. Much of this stumbling was due to his worsening diabetes, first diagnosed when he was 25 (1966). Michael was disciplined enough to keep himself alive with fairly primitive diabetes-management technology till he was one week away from his 66th birthday.
The fact that over 200 people gathered after his death to attend his memorial service and realized for the first time the larger dimensions of his creativity and potentiality is an indictment of our current socioeconomic design, which still fails to identify, maintain and exploit the most creative among us, defensive about its dysfunctional habit of unlimited concentration of decision-making among the most insulated and isolated one-thousandth (0.001%) of the population. It seems that every socio-economic design in operation has a definite creativity threshold, beyond which no one publishes or even imagines. This threshold is probably based on the Whorf-Sapir Hypothesis, that our language determines and limits the class of ideas that we can get. At least in our current still-primitive unlimited-concentration economic design, we don't still label our most creative people "heretics" and "witches" and burn them at the stake, as we did as recently as 300 years ago (though with the recent series of neo-con military coups in the United States and the vastly loosened use of the term "terrorist," there is still downside potential). The best recent critique we've seen of our current economic design is *Dictatorship and the Dysfunctional Capitalist State, though we'd replace the burned-out term "capitalist" with the more targeted term "unlimited-concentration" (as in concentration of income, wealth, power...).
The threshold, the point of diminishing returns from further concentration of the money supply (or flow) and the money reserve (or pool), is the point where there is no longer enough spending power in the middle and lower brackets to maintain the minimum volume and frequency and velocity of transactions in those brackets (i.e., medi and micro transactions) that is required to accommodate the massive concentration of investing power in the topmost brackets.
As the national (or state/provincial, or municipal) income is distributed up the income continuum, it changes function from spending power to investing power, because the top brackets were already spending all they cared to before they got the last $10 million).
Note the many terms to define, eg:
accommodate = provide enough sustainable investments.
Now after 67 years of deepening darkness about the need to cut worktime instead of jobs as we inject worksaving technology, it would take a major rewiring of our brains. Which ain't gonna happen before global warming wipes us out - the breakdown in our whole-system feedback-function occasioned by our lack of automatic worksharing will prevent our taking significant steps soon enough. We are like a person with no feeling in his trunk, arms or legs, so whatever troubles his trunk, arms or legs get into, no appropriate countermeasure is taken, such as pulling back from a flame. Do you know the numbness in a fingertip occasioned by a pinched nerve? It's like our whole body economic has become a numb "fingertip."
The thing is, worksharing is not just worksharing. It's just the gateway to a whole series of extremities-innervating, system-sensitizing and feedback-enhancing measures, such as automatic income sharing, wealth sharing, credit sharing, credibility sharing.... Meanwhile our power elite are still stuck in the lethal tarpit of smart-sounding nostrums like "It's not how much you earn but how much you keep."
Time is short and the water rises
The idea that progress is inevitable has been exploded again - see Ronald Wright, "Traps of Progress."
America is so OVER, like, finished, washed up, kaput, history, Geschichte! - to the great relief of the rest of the world - and also to their sadness, considering what might have been.
Straight out of the 1920s, a gang of political dirty-tricksters led by sociopath Karl Rove (the greatest among them is the servant of all of them) went far beyond ducking the good witch of democracy, suckering working-class religious people on one side and wealthy energy&weapon-obsessed investors on the other, have in 4-1/2 short years, bankrupted the U.S. Treasury, bottomed the currency, trashed the international reputation, and converted the stock markets into pyramid schemes.
All of this was possible because progressives did not move on and meet their deadlines and clinch the right benchmarks at the right time despite every opportunity - the 30-hour workweek passed the Senate but was stymied in the House in 1933. The downward momentum of the 44-42-40 hour workweek of 1938, 39 & 40 was stopped and then frozen by shortsighted businessmen panicked by World War II.
The sane immigration policy of 1935 was repeatedly weakened in 1965, 1982 and 1992.
The women's lib movement was stymied in 1980.
The movement for universal health insurance, led by Hawaii's wonderful 1992 plan, was dissipated by the Clinton's anti-small-business version in 1993.
As early as Jimmy Carter with his warmed-over New-Deal-style makework and micromanagement, progressives were realizing that they had the excitement but not the vision. And without a vision, the excitement would soon dissipate, and they would have nothing, nothing for the insecure poor or the insecure rich, and would leave the country open to the bogus wordgame vision of religious fundamentalists, and the backward, all-spin vision of the oil-crazed investors straight out of the 1920s - and longing to return - never mind 1929.
So where is the vision? Where's the beef? A host of NGOs and grant-suckers have materialized to fill the vacuum, such as Natural Step, New Roadmap, ecological economics, Share the Wealth aka United for a Fair Economy, but they have remained on the gnat-swatting surface. None have drill-down. None have penetrated to the bedrock on which the resumption of progress beyond technological whizzbang must be based.
This website however, having secured a base in the most European and progressive part of North America, Quebec (don't talk to us about Alberta - Saskatchewan is right about them: all they've got is just another oil bubble - the same short-sighted self-flattering stupidity in small - some ol', same ol'), is dedicated to designing that drill-downable vision, that alternative to the recurring nightmare of the 1920s, that major intersection of all progressive agendas, that minimalist agenda of the minimum necessary departure from status quo, that market-oriented milestone that would bring real freedom to billions, the most fundamental and basic freedom that the self-spun "conservatives" forget, free time - that great gift of more time and more moeny for everyone to improve their small corner of the world, some mounting up with creative wings as aggregating eagles....
That solid vision is based on the notion that human evolution is not about wars ("history"), or class struggle (Marx), or technology (Buckminster Fuller) - it's about the recurrent, gradually accelerating discovery-invention-design of better and better sharing systems = value centrifuges. In the short term, we have to worry about the accumulation and concentration of value. But that reverses in the long term and the problem becomes the opposite, namely, the diffusion, the deconcentration, the centrifugation, the distribution, of value.
Why? Because the rich seldom make the transition from poor brain to rich brain on time, so they keep nervously grabbing even when, like Bill Gates, they have 50-100 billion and nothing sustainable to invest in at anywhere near those levels.
The key to the great centrifuges or sharing systems is the social sciences:
Political Science - shadow power, rhetorical sway, the vote (as in "one person, one vote")
Geography-History - one man, one conscience (inner voice, indwelling spirit)
Sociology - one man, one home
Anthropology - one man, one wife
Going back to the top, next up after "one person, one vote" is "one adult, one workweek range" - the right to easily support oneself so others don't have to get into dependency-breeding charity = parasite-hosting, or anti-market makework
We have designed wonderful planes, computers, dental equipment, drugs, electronics, telescopes, microscopes, weapons....
If we put a quarter of those design smarts into the most important long-term challenge, the design and implementation of value centrifuges aka sharing systems, we'd be out of this backwater of bogus progress long since.
That is the mission of this website.
We're driven by BOREDOM - we're bored with the same ol' problems going on and on and on = greed, poverty, unemployment, starvation, on and on and on and on and on and on and on.... We're tired of being an embarassment to intelligent life in this quadrant of the galaxy....
We define "bible" as a critical culture-specific piece of literature that integrates that culture and hopefully enables it to have a literacy campaign and advance faster.